Mayor Breed Departs for Beijing After Successful Visit to Southern China

Visits to Shenzhen and Guangzhou include economic and tourism promotion efforts as well as cultural visits in an area of China with deep historical connections to San Francisco
April 16, 2024

GUANGZHOU Mayor London N. Breed today concluded the first portion of her trip in the southern region of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), after meeting with business leaders, government officials, and airline executives in Shenzhen and Guangzhou. Mayor Breed arrived in Shenzhen on Monday April 15, then traveled to Guangzhou on Tuesday April 16.   

Tomorrow, on Wednesday, April 17, the Mayor and her delegation will travel to Beijing, where she will meet with local government leaders, Air China and Hanan Airline executives, and business leaders. Mayor Breed will then travel to Shanghai to celebrate the 45th Anniversary of the San Francisco Shanghai Sister City relationship, the first to be established in the history of the United States. 

"San Francisco is more than a world-class destination, our City is a global partner to cities around the world. We are the gateway to the Asia Pacific and home to the oldest Chinatown in the United States, and the AI capital of the world,” said Mayor London Breed. “Spending time in Shenzhen and Guangzhou revealed many of our shared goals of and values of innovation, business and economic strength. My hope for this trip is to reemphasize the importance of creating strong partnerships around the world that will yield both cultural connections and economic opportunities. I’m thankful for those who have hosted us in Shenzen and Guangzhou, and proud of the work our delegation has done in the early part of this visit.” 

This visit represents a monumental opportunity for San Francisco to stimulate economic growth, expand the City’s tourism market, and bolster diplomatic relations and cultural ties across the region in China, with a goal of bringing new businesses and industry to San Francisco’s Downtown neighborhoods and across the City, including Chinatown, Richmond, the Sunset and Visitacion Valley. 

Shenzhen: Business and Tourism Expansion Targeted 

Mayor Breed was in the city of Shenzen from Monday. During the Mayor’s time in Shenzhen, she met with various local business leaders to discuss local economic opportunities between San Francisco and Shenzhen, and interest in the possibility for enterprise expansion into San Francisco. Mayor Breed was welcomed by Shenzen Mayor Qin Weizhong, where they discussed the connections between the two cities.  

At Monday’s meeting with Mayor Breed and City Administrator Carmen Chu, business leaders from Shenzhen-based industries including technology, green energy, life sciences, and travel took part in the meeting to explore possibilities of expanding into San Francisco. As part of the Mayor’s delegation, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, Bay Area Council and other stakeholders also joined the meeting to explore partnership opportunities.  

"As someone who grew up in an immigrant family of southern China,” said Carmen Chu, City Administrator. “This trip means so much to me and San Francisco. As we continue to recognize all of the contributions by our Chinese American community that helps built this City. I want to thank Mayor Breed for her leadership to ensure we continue to foster people to people exchange of the two places, and to bring opportunities that will benefit San Francisco and our community.” 

The Mayor was also joined by leadership from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and San Francisco Travel to meet with airline executives at Shenzhen Airlines’ headquarters with the goal of bringing Shenzhen Airlines to SFO International Airport. Currently, SFO has exceeded 2019 levels, and serves 1/3 of all U.S. - China flights in the United States. Expanding airline and route options to and from this historic region in southern China would bring more options for Bay Area residents and travelers from around the world. 

Last year, SFO served over 50 million passengers, up 18.7% from 2022, and saw nonstop service from China resume with Air China, China Eastern Airlines, and China Southern Airlines flying from Beijing, Shanghai, and Wuhan. 

"For the San Francisco Airport and the City and County of San Francisco overall, bringing back Chinese tourists is a huge priority, and that will not happen if we’re not intentional in our efforts” said Malcolm Yeung, President of the San Francisco Airport Commission. “This trip led by Mayor Breed is a critical first step in rebuilding those bridges. The Mayor’s presence here sends the strongest message of how important this is to San Francisco. And I can tell our partners and the community here in southern China appreciate it.” 

At the conclusion of the Mayor’s time in Shenzhen, she was joined by members of her delegation, local government officials, the Shenzhen Culture & Tourism Bureau, and representatives from travel industry organizations at a dinner hosted by SF Travel. Mayor Breed delivered remarks about her vision for San Francisco’s future, outlining the importance of strengthening ties between San Francisco and China’s partnership on tourism opportunities, and her strong interest in bringing Shenzhen Airlines to SFO to expand options for travelers and Bay Area residents. 

Guangzhou: Mayor Breed first SF Mayor to Lead a Delegation to Major Southern China City 

Arriving in Guangzhou on Tuesday, April 16, the Mayor Breed met with the Guangzhou Mayor Sun Zhiyang to discuss a future as partnered cities working together to forge collaborative ties as cities deeply rooted in tech and innovation. San Francisco's Chinese and Chinese American community is predominantly Cantonese speaking and largely connected the Canton region of China.   

Mayor Breed is the first San Francisco Mayor to lead an official delegation to the City of Guangzhou and meet with the leadership in Guangzhou. Southern China, specifically the Canton region, plays an important role in San Francisco’s history and Chinese community. The City’s Chinese and API communities across the City predominantly speak Cantonese as their primary language, and have deep roots in San Francisco – China relations.  

The Mayor and members of her delegation visited the old town of Guangzhou in south China's Guangdong, Yong Qing Fang. While there she visited the home of Hoi-Chuen Lee – Bruce Lee's father, who was a famous Cantonese opera star – which remains in place and retains its original wood and brick structure, delicate carved girders, and colorful carved glass screens. Bruce Lee, a Chinese American icon, was born in San Francisco’s Chinatown.   

Mayor Breed also attended an evening reception for AmCham China -- the American Chamber of Commerce -- where she spoke to an audience of more than 100 representatives from U.S. companies based in China about her vision for San Francisco’s Future and the City’s growing interest to reimagine Downtown from a 9-5 financial district into a thriving and vibrant district with 30,000 residents and students by 2030.   

“I want to thank Mayor Breed for leading a delegation to visit China,’ said Rodney Fong, President and CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. ‘The San Francisco Bay Area and China’s Greater Bay Area share so many similarities like the spirit of innovation and talented people. I look forward to continuing many of the partnerships with the connections I have made so far and will be making.” 

Photo and video of the trip linked here.